January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma refers to a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve. Today, there are over 3 million Americans who have glaucoma, and that number is steadily increasing. In fact, the National Eye Institute projects a 58 percent increase between now and 2030, meaning that glaucoma may affect 4.2 million Americans in the next fifteen years.
One of the most dangerous aspects of glaucoma is that it is often painless and can have few or no symptoms. Appropriately nicknamed “the sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma has the potential to deteriorate your vision by as much as 40% without you even noticing. Of the 60 million people worldwide who have glaucoma, experts estimate that half of them are unaware that they have the disease (Source: Glaucoma.org).
Because vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible, it is essential to raise awareness about this degenerative eye disorder and how to prevent it. Regular comprehensive eye exams are the best way to prevent glaucoma, but there are some specific risk factors of which you should be aware. These factors include:
- Age. If you are over 40 years of age, you are more likely to develop glaucoma.
- Racial or ethnic heritage. African American and Latino populations are at higher risk for glaucoma than Caucasians.
- Family history. Having a relative with glaucoma increases your risk for developing the disease.
- Medical conditions. Specific conditions like diabetes, hypertension, nearsightedness, farsightedness, eye injury, or eye tumor can place you in a high risk category.
Take our Glaucoma Risk Assessment. It will take you less than one minute to complete, but this short quiz will let you know if you are at low risk or high risk for developing glaucoma. Share the quiz with a friend or family member, and commit to scheduling your comprehensive eye exam this month. This way, you’ll be doing your part to celebrate Glaucoma Awareness Month!